Not long ago we came across a very experienced scientist tasked with fixing an underperforming confectionary line. He was planning an in-depth theoretical study to find a way to solve the problem. That study would take longer than a year to complete. Instead within weeks we got the information we needed. We used a range of simple off-the-shelf sensors which helped us identify and fix the problem quickly. The sweets were soon flying even faster off the production line.
This is a great example of where companies can go wrong when they want to improve performance. But perhaps a bigger mistake is to decide things can’t get any better. When you think you’ve squeezed everything you can out of your manufacturing plant, I bet you can get more.
Even after you’ve used traditional tools like lean manufacturing and Six Sigma, there could be untapped opportunities for improving productivity. Those opportunities could deliver tangible benefits within a short time and for a low capital investment. The current wave of consolidation in the consumer goods sector means those opportunities should be in high demand – to ease post-merger integration or ward off a takeover.
What’s stopping you?
These are the main stumbling blocks:
These problems can be overcome. Here’s how:
It’s well worth it
We’ve seen lines achieving more than 30 per cent higher output through low-cost retrofit upgrades. You can incorporate new technologies like connected manufacturing into existing lines. You can do that through simple modifications, adding sensors and feedback systems, making on-the-fly adjustments which weren’t possible just a few years ago. Why not take my bet and stretch those productivity targets?
By Michele Barone, Consumer and Manufacturing Expert at PA Consulting Group